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Gawker editors quit over deletion of gay escort story

gawker-media-secuirtyTwo Gawker Media editors resigned on Monday over the website’s decision to remove a controversial story centered on a rival media executive’s alleged intention to pay a gay escort for a sexual encounter.

Max Read, Gawker’s editor-in-chief, and executive editor Tommy Craggs wrote in dual memos to staffers on Monday informing the company of their decision to quit in the wake of the controversial’s article removal.

On Friday, Gawker’s six managing partners held a vote on whether or not to withdraw the article, written by staff reporter Jordan Sargent, following an unprecedented amount of backlash from industry pundits, gay rights activists and even the website’s own readers, hundreds of whom left negative comments on the article and on Gawker’s social media profiles.

Four of the six managing partners, including Gawker owner Nick Denton, voted in favor of removing the article.

In his e-mail on Monday, Cragg wrote that he stood by the story and challenged the action of the managing partnership, which he said “had operated according to a loose consensus.”

“Nothing had ever come to a formal vote, and the only time anyone had even hinted that the partners might intrude on a departmental prerogative was when Andrew Gorenstein wondered openly in a partnership meeting why Sam Biddle hadn’t been fired,” Cragg wrote, referring to the site’s marketing executive and a staff technology reporter.

“All I got at the end of the day was a workshopped email from Denton, asking me to stay on and help him unfuck the very thing he’d colluded with the partners to fuck up,” Cragg said.

Before the story was pulled, Cragg said some advertisers — including BFGoodrich and Discover — were “either putting holds on their campaigns or pulling out entirely” because of the “radioactive” response to Sargent’s article.

Gawker has received more than two million page views, or “clicks,” on the pulled story and subsequent articles covering the decision, according to public facing statistics made available on Gawker’s posts.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).